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Whether you have played the game before or you are looking for something to do in the next picnic, horseshoes can provide hours of entertainment for everybody. One of the really appealing aspects of horseshoes is that anybody can play.

The first thing should be discussed are the fundamentals of horseshoes. You can play a game with both players competing against eachother, or two teams of two players each. I will assume that you have two teams of two players each for this article. If you play with just two players competing against eachother then you just need to modify how the turn functions to accommodate one person rather than two.

Horseshoe Equipment

The equipment needed for horseshoes is minimal. You need two sets of horseshoes (four complete horseshoes because they are paired), two metal stakes, and a scoreboard is optional. If you’re looking for a professional set, you can find them by typing”horseshoes set” into your favorite search engine online.

Standard Game Play

Take the horseshoe stakes and place them in the ground 40 feet apart from eachother. These become the “pits” and are the spots each team will be aiming for when throwing the horseshoes. Now that the setup is complete, let’s get into the action!

When throwing the horseshoe, the pitcher (the person throwing the horseshoe) should stand 37 feet in the opposite bet. An easy way to do this is to place a marker 3 feet in front of each stake and this will be considered the foul line. The pitcher throws both horseshoes at the opposite stake. The thing is to get your horseshoes to land as near to the stake as possible. When the first pitcher is completed, another pitcher then throws the horseshoes from his group. So both teams on one side throw their horseshoes in the exact same stake. When both pitchers have thrown the score is tallied and the inning is regarded as over.


Just one team may score per inning. Whichever team gets the closest horseshoe to the bet, scores. If both horseshoes from one team are closer than any other horseshoe in the other team, then both horseshoes are scored. A team is awarded one point if a horseshoe is within 6 inches from the stake and 3 points if the horseshoes is around the stake (call a ringer). An easy way to visualize this is to take your left arm with elbow bent, and point your hand upwards. Make your right hand into a “C” shape and grab your left arm. That’s what a ringer is in horseshoes, one horseshoe wraps round the stake. The”hooks” of the horseshoe (the points which point inwards on the base of the horseshoe) is the border line when deciding a ringer. The stake must be within these hooks.

Some amateur games play with”leaners”. This implies that if a horseshoe is leaning on the stake, or touching the stake (although not a ringer) then it is worth two points. There are a couple variations of what counts as a thinner that differs from game to game depending on where you play and who you play with.


A team wins when they are the only group to strike 21 or above at the end of the inning.

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